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Paul's Letter to Brother Philemon Volume 1
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Paul's Greeting to Brother Philemon
Philemon 1:1-3 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. KJV
Paul the Apostle had met a man named Onesimus (who was a runaway slave) at some point on his missionary travels and the Gospel of the Grace of God had penetrated his inner man and he was converted, conformed, and captivated by said grace and became a follower of our Lord, Master, and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul (who knew that Philemon was his owner) now rights to him to prepare, promote, and persuade him to receive Onesimus back as no longer his slave, but now as his brother 'in Christ', so Paul greets Brother Philemon in this brief letter with these words first, "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer," (Philemon 1:1) (KJV). Paul undoubtedly wanted to first remind Brother Philemon how much he means to him and to also remind him that he (Paul) and he (Philemon) are themselves prisoners, but prisoners of a Good Master, a Kind Master, a Loving Master, that being Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul was the captive, the prisoner, the slave of Jesus Christ and so was brother Philemon. The English phrase 'our dearly beloved' is translated by the Greek word agapētos which means beloved: - (dearly, well) beloved, dear. The English word 'fellowlabourer' is translated by the Greek word sunergos which means a co-laborer, that is, coadjutor: - companion in labour, (fellow-) helper (-labourer, -worker), labourer together with, workfellow. Paul's words of love and affection to this man Philemon signifies that he is someone Paul has known for some time and has labored in the preaching of the Gospel of Christ with on many occassions despite the fact that he is not mentioned by Paul anywhere else in the entire New Testament, therefore, he is writing to someone who cares about him and someone he surely can get through to on this matter of his runaway slave.
However, it also could be argued that Paul only knew him as a brother 'in Christ' and this is reason why Paul speaks so kindly to him, knowing that since he loves our Lord Jesus Christ just as Paul does, then surely he will forgive Onesimus for the wrong which he has done to him now that he too is a brother 'in Christ'. Here is what Vincent's Word Study had to say concerning this first verse, "A prisoner for Christ's sake. This is the only salutation in which Paul so styles himself. The word is appropriate to his confinement at Rome. Apostle would not have suited a private letter, and one in which Paul takes the ground of personal friendship and not of apostolic authority. A similar omission of the official title occurs in the Epistles to the Thessalonians and Philippians, and is accounted for on the similar ground of his affectionate relations with the Macedonian Churches. Contrast the salutation to the Galatians. Timothy could not be called an apostle. He is distinctly excluded from this office in 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1. In Philippians and Philemon, after the mention of Timothy the plural is dropped. In Colossians it is maintained throughout the thanksgiving only. The title brother is used of Quartus, Romans 16:23; Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1; Apollos, 1 Corinthians 16:12. Philemon an inhabitant, and possibly a native of Colossae in Phrygia. The name figured in the beautiful Phrygian legend of Baucis. He was one of Paul's converts, and his labors in the Gospel at Colossae are attested by the title fellow-laborer, and illustrated by his placing his house at the disposal of the Colossian Christians for their meetings. The statements that he subsequently became bishop of Colossae and suffered martyrdom are legendary."
Next Paul makes sure to Greet Philemon's wife along with another brother 'in Christ' perhaps their son with these words, "And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the Church in thy house:" (Philemon 1:2) (KJV). Apphia is likely Philemon's wife and Archippus another brother 'in Christ' who was perhaps their son. How wonderful, and entire family or household saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul acknowledges their fellowship in Philemon's home where they gathered together to read and study the Word of God and worship our Lord Jesus Christ. In those days of the early Church, there were no building funds being collected to build some large and elaborate buildings to worship Christ, the true brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus then met whereever they could to honor the Name of Christ who had resuced them from their sin and from eternal destruction in hell and the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Finally, Paul's customary greeting of grace be given to the recipients of his letter as shown with these words, "Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philemon 1:3) (KJV). It is always Paul's desire that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ would grant 'grace' and 'peace' to all of His adopted son's and daughters, that grace being the divine influence upon the heart or inner man and inner woman that gives power to live down here on this wicked earth and that peace of God which brings about quietness and rest to the soul or inner man and inner woman despite what wicked acts are being plotted, planned, and prepared by the devil through his invisible devils and his visible two-legged devils against any of us son's and daughter's of God. Amen to this!
Here is what Alexander MacLaren had to say concerning this third verse, "The ground of the certainty lies in the source from which the grace and peace come. They flow 'from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' The placing of both names under the government of one preposition implies the mysterious unity of the Father with the Son; while conversely St. John, in the parallel passage just mentioned, by employing two prepositions, brings out the distinction between the Father, who is the fontal, that is the fountain or origin, source, and the Son, who is the flowing stream. But both forms of the expression demand for their honest explanation the recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ. How dare a man, who thought of Him as other than Divine, put His name thus by the side of God’s, as associated with the Father in the bestowal of grace? Surely such words, spoken without any thought of a doctrine of the Trinity, and which are the spontaneous utterance of Christian devotion, are demonstration, not to be gainsaid, that to Paul, at all events, Jesus Christ was, in the fullest sense. Divine. The double source is one source, for in the Son is the whole fullness of the Godhead; and the grace of God, bringing with it the peace of God, is poured into that spirit which bows humbly before Jesus Christ, and trusts Him when He says, with love in His eyes and comfort in His tones, 'My grace is sufficient for thee'; 'My peace give I unto you.'"
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…
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